Thousands turn out for strictly Orthodox leader’s visit to UK

The Belzer Rebbe visited England for the first time in over 20 years.


The strictly Orthodox community in Stamford Hill gathered together over the weekend to welcome the Rebbe of the Belz Chasidic dynasty, with an estimated 20,000 Chasidim taking part in a celebration on Saturday night.

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the grand rabbi of Belz, was visiting the UK for the first time since 1994, to attend the opening of a new synagogue and learning facility for the local Belzer community. Belz is one of the largest Chassidic sects, numbering over seven thousand families.

Strictly Orthodox people from across the UK spent Shabbat in Stamford Hill, in north-east London, and 1,500 people flew in from abroad. A giant marquee was erected in the grounds of Yesodey Hatorah school, allowing five thousand people to join Rabbi Rokeach for Shabbat dinner.

The holiday of Lag Ba’Omer began on Saturday night, and a traditional bonfire ceremony was held, with the celebration continuing into the early hours of the morning.

The official opening of the new synagogue took place on Sunday. A procession was held through Stamford Hill, with local streets closed to allow the parade through.

The Rebbe gave his blessing to the new establishment, with speeches and entertainment provided by members of the local community.

Rabbi Ahron Klein, who organised the event, described the visit as a “huge success.

“We are deeply grateful to the Rebbe for attending and we are sure that this will stay in long in the memory of all those who took part.”

Rabbi Yidel Baumgarten, who was among those that co-ordinated the visit, said: “This is an incredibly special year for Belz in the UK. To be able to open a state of the art facility within our community was testament to the dedication of our community.

“To have the Rebbe come here to open it; this transcends Belz and affects the whole area. This is something that our children will remember and I hope will lead to our continued success in London and across the UK.”

At one point on Sunday the police were forced to intervene after a small group of protestors from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect caused a scuffle outside the venue. A video of the aftermath of the altercation was posted on Twitter. Police appear to restraining a man, who attempts to crawl away.


“Neturei Karta are protesting against the Belzer Rebbe because he supports the state of Israel”, a local member of the Stamford Hill community told the JC.

“The policy is to ignore them and not give them any attention. Sadly they become violent and ended up with police on the scene. No injuries were reported and no arrests were made”.

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